An article published by Harvard Professor Vikram Mansharamani titled ‘‘No specific skill will get you ahead in the future’—but this ‘way of thinking’ will” got me thinking about all that talk about ‘employability skills’ that we grew up listening.
At every level we were told to specialize, super-specialize and be a master of one in order to be ‘irreplaceable’ in your career.
Vikram, in his aforementioned article, says “the future may be very different: Breadth of perspective and the ability to connect the proverbial dots (the domain of generalists) is likely to be as important as depth of expertise and the ability to generate dots (the domain of specialists)”.
After a couple of decades in the corporate world, I am now enjoying the top position. It makes me eligible for middle and junior management fellows to approach me for career advice. I have since stopped passing down the same one that I got years ago. Instead, I am prophesying about the five core skills that I have come to bank on more often and which have stood the test of time.
In fact, if you observe carefully, the whole philosophy of skill development has had a tectonic shift. Look at companies like Google where an employee has to work from one department to the other and cannot just afford to be a specialist in only one subject. It is more obvious in this past few years, the last two pandemic years sealing the deal. Today, we need to equip ourselves with skills for jobs that may exist tomorrow.
Top 5 skills For TheFuture
Although there are several skills to choose from, I’ve found the five listed below as the most apt for both the times we live in and the future.
- Communication will never go out of fashion as long as we continue to have human to human communication. But uni-dimensional communication is so passé. Today we need to develop communication skills that cater to diverse profile of people. The way we communicate will have to include expression of empathy and assertiveness at the same time. Ability to use digital platform for communication and to create pieces for use online are a must. Think blog writing, report writing, product details, emails and presentations. Use of technology to communicate without losing out on the humane aspect of it all, counts.
- Leadership The whole definition of leadership has evolved in the past two years. It is not just limited to people in decision making roles but has permeated every cadre of an organization. Leadership skills would be needed to be inculcated from the school level in a different way. It’s not just about leading from the front and taking decisions but to stand behind your people in times of need and to rise to the occasion when it counts. A good leader today knows how to collaborate and delegate because there’s only so much you can accomplish alone. A leader is someone who does not hesitate to learn and also teach others. Someone with technological, cultural and emotional intelligence, agile and a quick learner will climb the ladder faster than one with a long list of academic qualifications.
- Teamwork + Collaboration – Driving teams is different from leading teams. A true leader builds great morale among teams. Working in a competitive environment means leveraging skills of all your mates to fullest use. As part of a team yourself, one cannot think about personal growth at any time. Rather, you would be expected to be flexible in working in any team for diverse projects. Getting the right people on board and getting them to work towards solutions is the key role of today’s leaders. That requires a deep understanding of people’s abilities and the means to leverage them so that everyone is aware they are part of a big task towards solving problems.
- Ability to work under pressure – There was a time when some sectors prided themselves of expecting work yesterday. Today, it is important to think about the day after and plan for tomorrow yesterday. Today is for execution alone. Work pressures are a way of life going ahead. One cannot do away with it so learn to manage and deal with it. Psychology may say that most people work best under pressure but too much of it takes a toll. Early onset of diseases like hypertension and diabetes are a clear indicator that the new world is not easy on the body and mind. Mindfulness, planning, delegating, collaborating and prioritizing helps to work around work pressures. Mentors and career coaches help people to deal with pressures through minute planning. Using all available resources and focusing on time is the key to avoid a burnout caused by work pressure. Why just professionals, we all see every day that even kids face work pressure and are managing quite well through focus and some mentoring.
- Problem solving – I have come to believe that humans have become adept at problem solving more than ever before. Technology has no doubt played a huge role in this, but accurate training and a constantly VUCA world meant that one has to find solutions regularly. Businesses in fact are rooted in problem solving for customers. One look at today’s start-up ecosystem and you will realize that today’s generation has come up with solutions for problems you didn’t know existed! Innovation, creative thinking has replaced the out-of-box thinking that was a buzz word a few years ago. Disruption is no more an occurrence but a norm. Staying ahead of the curve requires everyone to think differently. Who would have imagined that the world would come around with a vaccine for a hitherto unknown virus and get almost the entire population vaccinated barely within 2 years? That is the power of innovation with the help of technology.
The future will definitely count on core skills that shaped human history, but going forward, professionals will need to imbibe new age skills in a totally new form altogether.
As they say, it could bring you this far but may not be able to take you ahead.
Adapt and adopt for a better future.
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